What if you could visit 1960s London in your dreams, but it quickly turns into a horrible nightmare you can't wake up from?
This is what happens and more in "Last Night in Soho" from director and writer Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead" and "Baby Driver"). It's a haunting psychological thriller, but the third act falls into a rushed finale.
Last Night in Soho - Official Teaser Trailer [HD] - In Theaters October www.youtube.com
Fashion student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), or Ellie, loves anything old including her treasured record player or her antiquated clothing, and she has a fascination with the 1960s. Early on, the audience learns something is strange with her as she sees her dead mother in a mirror and her grandmother often expresses concern with Ellie's visions as she moves to London for college.
Her roommate (Synnove Karlsen) is a modern rich mean girl making Ellie's life miserable, but thankfully one boy (Michael Ajao) takes a romantic interest in Ellie to ease her troubles. Nevertheless, she rents a flat owned by an old woman (Diana Rigg). During her first night, she dreams of a glamorous aspiring singer from the 1960s named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), whom she sees mirroring Ellie's movements in reflections, and the actress is given a chance at success with shady talent agent Jack (Matt Smith). The more Ellie visits these dreams, the more her concepts on dreams, realities and nightmares blur.
Cinematography flushed with dark shades of red and blue from Chung-hoon Chung is phenomenal. It's easy to distinguish what's real and what's a dream sequence – until it's not. And that lines up well with the story's ambiguity. It's heightened with music scores from Steven Price and an evocative rendition of "Downtown" performed by Taylor-Joy, both with an uptempo and a downtempo.
"Downtown (Downtempo)" performed by Anya Taylor-Joy - Official Music Video - Last Night in Soho www.youtube.com
Taylor-Joy and McKenzie prove they're two of the best young actresses in the industry. It's fun to watch them play off each other's characters who are opposites of each other.
The story is original and gripping. With each visit to the dream world, viewers feel dread and anticipation bubbling to the surface. Things get scarier as the movie goes on, especially with one significant jump scare with a phone. And as the final twist unfolds, it's thrilling albeit predictable. But things collapse into a rushed conclusion that's unfulfilling because the characters pretend like nothing happened despite serious casualties and mental trauma.
It's not the best way the film could've ended, but try to glaze over that and the audience has a decent film to see in theaters for spooky season.
See "Last Night in Soho" in theaters starting Friday, October 29. Follow the reporter on Twitter at @s_incorvaia, and follow her podcast at @PlotDevicesPod on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.